AFTER the Norman Conquest, William Giffard, for his military service to William the Conqueror, was rewarded with many estates, and locally these included that of Newton.
The name, as a legacy from the Saxon period, meant ‘new settlement,’ and Walter would – among other local interests – bestow the manor on the Cluniac Priory, of his foundation, of Saint Foy (Saint Faith), at Longueville, near Rouen.
After his death he was succeeded by his namesake son, by whom the gift of Newton was reaffirmed and with royal confirmation being received, around 1109, it was probably soon afterwards that the priory at Longueville built a ‘cell’ in the village, thereby accounting for the second part of the name (Interestingly, in the village church the moulding of the north west pillar of the nave is said to be very similar to that of Longueville Abbey).
In 1316 the prior of the parent order is returned as the lord of the manor, but during the 14th and 15th centuries the cell, due to the wars with France, would often be in the hands of the King. He consequently made various grants to various people at various times, until in 1414 it was finally suppressed as ‘alien property’ and given to the Warden and scholars of New College Oxford.
They, apart from making alterations and additions to the church, constructed a new moated manor house on the foundations of the old priory (a part of the cloisters of which are possibly in the grounds of the nearby St Anne’s Grange) and, as a manorial privilege, near the Manor House around the late 15th century a dovecote was built.
Notably this featured a construction of closely set timbers, with brick nogging laid in between, and with 360 oak nesting boxes lining the walls the structure was topped by a pyramidal roof.
In fact the dovecot was the only example of this type in the county and although in 1923 New College, as lords of the manor, were willing to contribute a considerable amount for its restoration the preservation fell through, since the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings required an extra £100 or so, to provide an income for the continued upkeep.
Thus within a few years the dovecot fell into ruins and had to be demolished. As for the Manor House, generally this was occupied by a lessee of New College, with the lease period in 1826 being for 20 years.
Then in 1884 the Waller family, descended from a distinguished line that included the parliamentary general, Sir William Waller, came to Newton Longville and made The Manor their home for ten years.
The father had been an army officer stationed in Montreal but in 1863 the family moved to England and after his death the following year his widow, son and three daughters resided for some years at Ipswich, before moving to Newton Longville.
The son became a doctor and went to the West Indies, where he died childless, while the three unmarried daughters made their home at the Red House. One was an artist, one of her commissions being to paint a picture of King Edward the Seventh’s pet dog. Another, who died just before World War Two, bred dogs, and eventually the third, Hilda, was left to live alone at the Red House.
Of musical talent, she was presented with a silver baton for her many years of conducting the Fenny Stratford Temperance Choir, and, apart from conducting a male choir in the village, she was for some 40 years the organist at the church.
In fact as a memorial to her family she installed an electric blower and further commemorated her lineage by writing a tune which she entitled the Waller March.
But back to the Manor House. In 1918 it was the home of the head of Rowland Brothers, Mr William Alfred Lailey Rowland, while as for the later occupancy at it’s sale in 1985 the asking price – to include ‘a master bedroom with bidet’ was £150,000.
In view of the monastic past, not surprisingly the area is supposedly haunted, and it has even been said that a presence is felt in the telephone box near the churchyard gate. However, it it’s trying to communicate with an overseas call centre it won’t have a ghost of a chance.